Whenever inter act with pastoral colleagues, I learn much more than I teach. In fact, I discover fresh approaches to ministry wherever I find pastors. I hope these good, practical ideas will awaken excellence in pastoral ministry for you.
Come Home for Christmas.
Lay leader Norma Beier and Pastor Dan Knapp, of Pendleton, Oregon (USA), encouraged all churches in their city to invite missing members "home for the holidays." Norma and Doris Olson prepared a special banner and shared it with pastors of all denominations at a monthly meeting of the local ministerial association. Following their presentation, 22 of the 26 area churches posted banners which invited their missing members to become re-involved in church life.
Providing a suitable house of worship draws people.
Lay members in Windhoek, Namibia (Southern Africa Union), wanted to invite their colleagues to worship services but lacked a suitable location to invite their professional friends for worship. They began holding services in a university classroom but soon outgrew that limited space. Undaunted by financial reality, they moved forward in faith and secured one of the city's largest church facilities. Today, they fill the entire complex with worship, evangelistic, educational, and training activities and multiply their impact on government, academic, and business leaders in the capital city of their country.
A creative layperson at First Christian Reform Church, Lynden, Washington (USA), became tired of people seeing only the negative in situations and decided to emphasize the positive. The ministry of the Encouragement Committee is to watch the congregation closely, trying to catch people in the act of doing something good. When a "detective" snoops out good deeds, he or she sends a note or card—often homemade, one-of-a-kind creations—to celebrate the contribution to the church family.
Female members in Yorkton, Saskatchawan (Canada), established five specific objectives for their emphasis on ministering to their families, their church, and their community.
1. Encourage daily devotion to learn to know Christ as best Friend and example.
2. Pray, "We are willing Lord, to love others as You loved us."
3. Encourage unity among the women in our church.
4. Encourage each woman to develop her own personal outreach.
5. Initiate short-term and ongoing outreach projects sponsored by the women of the congregation.
Getting out the good news.
French-speaking pastors and members now have a four-color booklet available to share with those who seek information about Adventists. This attractive booklet, introduced by Bernard Sauvagnat of the Franco- Belgium Union (France), arrests attention and provides a quick overview of life and ministry provided through the church. Major themes include present activities through ADRA, education, health ministry, religious freedom, a brief history of our denomination, a statement of beliefs emphasizing life in Jesus, an overview of the great controversy theme, and current statistics about the church worldwide with special information about francophone institutions, publications, and geographical concentrations.
Aaron and Hur Club.
Lay evangelist, Willard D. Regester, initiated an emphasis on supporting pastoral leadership based on the Exodus 17:12 story of Moses receiving support which led to victory. He combines the Biblical principle of joint effort to win the battle with the following quotations which form a covenant card where members can pledge their personal commitment to support their pastoral leadership. "Happy the minister who has a faithful Aaron and Hur to strengthen his hands when they become weary and to hold them up by faith and prayer. Such a support is a powerful aid to the servant of Christ in his work, and will often make the cause of truth to triumph." 1 "How .. . pleasing to God it would be for [members of the church] to act the part of Aaron and Hur and help hold up the hands of those who are bearing the great and heavy burdens of the work."2
Youngsters are eager for worship services to begin at the Sandy, Oregon (USA), church because they get to visit their "pocket pals." The brightly-colored fabric "pockets" are decorated with a Noah's ark theme and are filled to their tops with materials for quiet, creative, and spiritual activities. Each child chooses one of the "pockets" as they enter the church sanctuary.
You are encouraged to share your own good ideas and to adapt any of these for your ministry. None of these ideas will work in every situation. All of them combine elements of faith - visioning plus a determination to share God's good news. One of them may just be the spark your congregation needs.
1. Ellen G. White, Testimonies to the Church (Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press® Pub. Assn., 1885), 4:531.
2. Ellen G. White, Testimonies to the Church (Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press® Pub. Assn., 1885), 1:526.